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Neighbourhood planning information

The borough of Guildford has four neighbourhood plans that have passed a referendum and form part of the borough's Development Plan:

There are ten designated neighbourhood areas:

What is neighbourhood planning?

Neighbourhood planning encompasses a series of powers introduced by the Localism Act 2011. Neighbourhood planning gives communities the opportunity to plan their local area by deciding how it should grow, where development should go and what it should look like.

For example, neighbourhood planning can be used to:

  • choose where new homes, shops and offices should be built
  • have a say on what those new buildings should look like
  • influence the design and functionality of open spaces and
  • grant planning permission for new developments the community wants to see go ahead.

Neighbourhood planning cannot be used to prevent developments required to meet the borough's current and future needs (the strategic priorities). However communities can use neighbourhood planning to influence the design, location and mix of new development and to address any issues that are purely local.

There are three types of neighbourhood planning tools your community may wish to use.

  1. Neighbourhood Plan - through a neighbourhood plan you can establish and deliver a vision for your neighbourhood, setting planning policies and making proposals for land use in your local area. An adopted neighbourhood plan will sit alongside the borough's Local Plan and help decide the outcome of planning applications.
  2. Neighbourhood Development Order (NDO) - this allows you to grant up-front planning permission for certain types of development that that the community wants.
  3. Community Right to Build Order - a type of NDO that grants planning permission for the local community to build small-scale housing developments, community facilities or shops.

Is neighbourhood planning the right option?

Neighbourhood planning is not the only option available. There are many other ways you can influence planning in your area:

  • Community led plans, including parish and town plans
  • Community design statements
  • Local distinctiveness studies
  • Local landscape character assessment
  • Residents' survey
  • Concept statements
  • Conservation area appraisals

Whichever method you choose, it should always be appropriate for your goal and available resources.

Neighbourhood planning is generally aimed at bringing forward or shaping new development. If your goals cannot be met through development, neighbourhood planning may not be the best tool.

How can we start neighbourhood planning?

Neighbourhood planning is a democratic process led either by a parish or town council, or a neighbourhood forum (see below) in non-parished areas. The Council can provide some guidance and technical assistance.

For more information, please see our five step guide to neighbourhood planning below. Further advice on the neighbourhood planning process can be found in the Neighbourhood Plans Roadmap Guide from Locality.

Five-step guide to neighbourhood planning

This is a brief summary of the main stages involved in the neighbourhood planning process.

1. Establish the lead body and define the neighbourhood area

The neighbourhood planning process is community driven but needs a body to lead the process. In parished areas this will be the town or parish council.

In non-parished areas a neighbourhood forum will need to be established. This must consist initially of at least 21 unrelated people who are sufficiently representative of that area. These people must live in, run businesses in or be elected members of a council in the neighbourhood area. This group acts as the forum steering group and a nucleus around which a community forum can form. Once the forum is established anyone who lives, works or has a business in the area may join. See section 61F(5) of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 for the full criteria.

You also need to decide on an area for plans or orders to cover. This area is called the 'neighbourhood area'. This could follow parish or ward boundaries but doesn't have to. The area must make sense in planning terms and cannot overlap with other existing or proposed neighbourhood areas.

Once the lead body and neighbourhood area are decided, an application for designation needs to be made to the Council. This should be in the form of a letter and must include: a map which identifies the area applied for, a statement explaining why this area is considered appropriate to be designated as a neighbourhood area and a statement that the body making the application is a 'relevant body' (either a parish or town council, or a body that meets the criteria to become a neighbourhood forum).

Prospective neighbourhood forums must also apply to the Council for designation. The application must include the name of the proposed forum, a copy of the written constitution, the name of the neighbourhood area to which the application relates, the contact details of at least one forum member (this will be made public) and a statement which explains how the proposed forum meets the criteria.

Please send neighbourhood area and forum applications to planningpolicy@guildford.gov.uk.

2. Prepare your neighbourhood plan or development order

This is a democratic process that involves the community. You will need to collect together your community's ideas, gather evidence and draw up your proposals. You will need to ensure that everyone living and working in and around your neighbourhood area is appropriately consulted - including residents, businesses, landowners and relevant local, regional and national organisations and agencies. You may need to adjust proposals in response to consultation feedback.

Planning and development proposals must:

Read a document that sets out the  icon strategic policies of the Guildford Borough Local Plan [120.99KB]

Neighbourhood planning proposals form part of the development plan when they are adopted, which means they must be considered when planning decisions are made. As a result, neighbourhood plan policies must be robust, justified and supported with evidence.

Developing a neighbourhood plan or order may be a long process and will entail some costs which the neighbourhood planning body will have to carry. There may be government funding available to contribute to these costs, but this is not guaranteed.

3. Independent check

Once the plan or order is completed, we will arrange for it to be checked by an independent examiner. The examiner will check to make sure it is legally compliant and meets the 'basic conditions'. The examiner will consider any representations received during the consultation period.

If the examiner considers that your plan or order doesn't meet requirements, he/she will recommend that it be changed or rejected. We will then need to consider the examiner's views and decide whether to make those changes, reject the plan or proceed to referendum. If significant changes are recommended, then the community may need to be consulted again before proceeding.

4. Community referendum

Once independently approved by the examiner, your neighbourhood plan or development order will need to be put to a community referendum organised by us. This will ensure that the community has the final say on whether your plan or order is to come into effect.

The referendum must be won by a simple majority of those who voted. Anyone who lives in the neighbourhood area and is usually eligible to vote there will be eligible to vote in the referendum. Where the proposals may significantly impact upon people living outside the neighbourhood area, the referendum boundary may be extended.

5. Legal adoption

If the plan or order passes referendum, we must formally adopt it as part of the statutory Local Development Plan for the area. Once your plan or order has been brought into effect, decision-makers will be legally obliged to take what it says into account when considering planning applications and other proposals for development in the neighbourhood area.

Where the local community has made it clear that they want to see development of a certain type, it will then be easier for that sort of development to go ahead.

Useful websites

Local and national planning policy, guidance and law

Community and neighbourhood planning guidance